I kind of wish the lacrosse game had been after the basketball game. (Yes, I mean Syracuse - and yeah, I kinda like this deal where we get both of those games on the same weekend.) I might've stuck around for the second half. I guess the lax crew looked a lot better after halftime. I wouldn't know, having had my fill after two quarters of only winning faceoffs if the ball first found its way to one corner of the field.
I don't need to learn that lesson for basketball, because Tony always figures it out. I suppose one day maybe he won't, but, I mean, if you've been paying attention you know how he preaches, and even the worst fifteen minutes of offense in anyone's recollection isn't insurmountable if the defense is still defensing.
For all the criticism announcers take, sometimes they hit the target, and the crew on Monday night did just that when they said all it took to fix the putrid offense was an attitude adjustment. Might be that Evan Nolte's three-pointer kicked off the run, but what made it a run was the decision by the ballhandlers to attack the zone. It's amazing how things just fell into place after that.
And through it all, the defense. The offense swung as violently between extremes as any team's offense ever did this season, and the defense was the defense, which makes it sort of fitting the Hoos wrapped up the regular-season title that way, because it was Tony's preaching brought to life in lurid fashion.
Myron Medcalf can keep on being snide. (And he does, believe me.) Anyone who isn't entertained by this team has no business watching college basketball. Three games in a week, all of them vastly different from one another yet all of them with unmistakeable Tony Bennett fingerprints. Tony just engineered two of the three double-ups in ACC history, in one season. If the Hoos win in Louisville, Tony will be, as far as anyone can tell, the only ACC coach, probably the only coach in any conference, to improve his win total six years in a row. These are mind-boggling feats of strength. Are you not entertained?
-- I found myself caught in the trap that most writers fall into, to wit: pre-forming a narrative and hoping the facts turn out to fit it. In this case I was planning on writing about how last week was revenge on a pair of teams that woke the dragon by daring to play the two closest games we've seen all season. Wake certainly obliged. VT basically did, too, but undermined the narrative by getting three of the stupid-luckiest rolls on three-pointers I've ever seen. Tech did make the first half close, but try landing a shot like they did, just so, on the back of the iron. Take away blind luck and the VT game is a plain-Jane blowout.
-- I'm almost always a huge fuddy-duddy about showboating and punking your opponents - I thought, for example, that Kevin Stallings of Vanderbilt was 99% in the right in berating his player for clapping in someone's face. (The only quibble is that I do think there's wisdom in the maxim "praise in public, criticize in private.") But I also know the difference between having fun and being a dick, which is why I don't mind one bit that Darion Atkins got T'ed up. Except that maybe that would've been a solid time to swallow the whistle and not call an I'm-in-charge-here foul.
-- Jim Boeheim's not a bad guy, as coaches go. But Rob Vozenilek and Maleek Frazier checked in at the scorers' table to finish out the VT game. One game later, the TV cameras panned to Syracuse's Carter Sanderson sitting at the end of the bench in the final seconds of a blowout while the announcers set up the replay of his portion of the senior day festivities. That's the Tony Bennett Difference.
-- An appendectomy??? What's next for Justin Anderson, Lyme disease? Sheesh.
-- Interesting bit of news on the football side, where UVA will bolster the tight end depth chart with former QB Brendan Marshall. Makes sense, since he was being rapidly buried in the QB hierarchy and tight end is completely lacking in experience and depth. It's still lacking in experience, but the more pieces you throw at the wall, the more likely one will stick.